Thursday, 29 June 2017

Red and rosé wines for summer

If you are looking for a light red wine for summer choose one from Europe. These wines tend to have a lower alcohol content that those from countries such as Australia and Chile. And, good news if you are watching your figure, they tend to contain fewer calories as well.

Whether you like a glass of dry, fruity rosé on a hot summer’s night or a light red, here are three that I have tried and enjoyed. They are all 12.5% ABV

St-Nicolas de Bourgueil, Les Rouillères, 2015, Frédéric Mabileau, £15.50, Berry Bros. & Rudd (
An elegant, easy-to-drink wine saturated with red berry flavours infused with a hint of leafiness and just the right amount of freshness. This cabernet franc works really well with food. Perfect for barbecues.

Reuilly Rouge, Les Pierres Plates, 2015, Denis Jamain £14.95, Berry Bros. & Rudd (
Bursting with the tang of raspberries, cherries and red currants laced with a touch of earthiness,  this gorgeous silky-smooth pinot noir is extremely quaffable. Lovely on a hot summer’s night, or indeed at any time, this is a real palate pleaser.

Waitrose Provence Rosé 2016 Côtes de Provence, South of France £8.99, Waitrose
A glass of Provence rosé is, for me, the epitome of summer. It conjures up memories of many a happy time spent in this region. Waitrose worked with one of the best-known negociants in Provence to produce this gem. A grenache/cinsault fused with a smattering of cabernet sauvignon, it fills the palate with mouth-watering fruit. Delicious. 

By Daralyn Danns

Monday, 26 June 2017

Spotlight on Aura Mugler

When Thierry Mugler launched Angel, in 1992, a whole new gourmand category was born. Bursting with chocolate, vanilla and caramel notes tempered with patchouli and musk, the scent caused a sensation. Today it is still one of the world’s top selling fragrances. 

Ten years later Alien hit the shelves. This rich floral woody scent laced with amber was another one that stood out from the crowd. Womanity, a savoury-sweet fragrance that celebrated the diverse facets of a woman was another hit.

Now Mr Mugler once again wants to revolutionise the world of perfume with Aura (from £49). Paying homage to women’s intuition which he feels is their strength and magic, in other words, their aura, he has created a scent that is combination of an oriental and botanical with a dose of animal.

Smoky and opulent tiger liana melds with rhubarb leaf and orange blossom to give a hint of tangy freshness while bourbon vanilla and wolfwood add a sensual je ne sais quoi.

The green chiselled glass bottle is a work of art in itself. Ultimately, it does not matter what the story behind the juice is, it depends on how it reacts on your skin and whether you like it. For those that like to wear scents that stand out from the crowd, I suggest you try it.

By Daralyn Danns

Friday, 23 June 2017

Top long-haul destinations

Recently carrying out some research, I “interviewed” several travel agents/tour operators to put a trip together to New Zealand. Trailfinders ( was by far the most professional. My consultant understood my needs and wants. More to the point, unlike a lot of people, I spoke to, he knew what he was talking about. 

So, I asked Trailfinders what are its top long-haul destinations and to recommend some hotels that stand out from the crowd. 

 Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island

It is no surprise that this is one of the top long-haul destinations. This vast and diverse country has always held a special fascination for Brits. From lovely city beaches to seeing wildlife and tropical forests to exploring the Outback, there is something to fascinate everybody. Of course, there is tasty food and plenty of rather good wine to drink.

Standout hotel
For James Turnball, Trailfinders London City, it was the Southern Ocean Lodge (Southern Ocean Lodge) Kangaroo Island South Australia. He loved the dramatic views from the large windows of the stylish rooms. He says: “A favourite was the canapes and kangaroos. Amazing!”

South Africa
The Rainbow Nation is renowned for its natural beauty. There is nothing quite like standing on the top of Table Mountain or seeing the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard) on safari or being mesmerised by the penguins on Boulders Beach. At Robben Island, you can see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and learn about the country’s history. You certainly will not go hungry or thirsty in South Africa. The cuisine is excellent and the local wines are extremely quaffable.

Stand-out hotel
Rachel Webb of the Trailfinders Concierge Team picked the Tsala Treetop Lodge (Tsala Treetop Lodge), Plettenberg Bay.  

“Wow! What a beautiful property,” she says. “The suites are very spacious and private. You can enjoy the views of the forest through the floor-to-ceiling windows.” She points out that the food is delicious and good value. She adds that there is so much to do in the area such as visiting the Knysa Elephant Park, zip-lining or a walk at the Robberg Nature Reserve. 

Bay of Many Coves, Marlborough Sounds

New Zealand
For unspoilt scenery, it is hard to beat New Zealand. Pictures cannot do justice to this gorgeous country. From fjords, glaciers and snow-covered mountains and lakes in the south to subtropical forests and beaches in the north as well as interesting cities, this place is arguably one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. It is a wine buff’s heaven. It may only produce a small quantity of the world’s wine but quality counts here.

Stand-out hotel
For Beckie Fowler of Trailfinders Leeds it was the Bay of Many Coves, (Bay Of Many Coves) Marlborough Sounds. “This is a stunning hotel in an amazing setting. You arrive into the sound and the hotel is set in a very private quiet bay,” she says. “The apartments are beautifully set out with the highlight being the panoramic windows across the living room (leading to balcony) and bedroom which open fully with stunning views out across Marlborough Sound.”

The Fairmont Banff Springs, The Rockies

The Great Lakes, the Rockies and Niagara Falls are only part of this vast and diverse country’s allure. It also has plenty of buzzing sophisticated cosmopolitan cities such as Vancouver and Montréal. The Canadian Confederation celebrates this year, 2017, its 150th anniversary.

Stand-out hotel
For Jenny McCaffery, Trailfinders Manchester, it was the Fairmont Banff Springs, (The Fairmont Banff Springs), The Rockies.

Built in 1888, this grand old building, originally a Canadian Pacific Hotel is shrouded in history - it has its own hotel museum on site.

“The hotel is gigantic and self-contained with everything you might need including 12 eating establishments, three pools, various shops, spa, curling rink in winter,” she says. “Its spectacular location, surrounded by Rockies scenery on all sides, would lead you to believe you are in the middle of nowhere, when in fact the hotel is only a 15-minute scenic walk into central Banff or 5 minutes in a taxi.”

More destinations coming up soon.

By Daralyn Danns